Saturday, 28 March 2009

The Cry-Off

So much so for perfecting my skills as a forward. Friday night out with the missus ended up with me leaving the restaurant early feeling somewhat queasy.

She stayed behind with the others and I managed to get back, pay off the baby sitter and get ready for bed.

This is perhaps the kind of early to bed attitude that makes for goal scoring. But that's not why I was doing it. I felt unwell. And I didn't even attempt to try and turn out for the match.

That would have been silly. Especially since I would have conked out at work.

So all in all disappointment for not being able to enjoy my night out with my girl and a certain amount of misery for not being able to go out and play.

Prepare for next week.

As for the causes of the ailment. The missus says it is a virus. Me I think it's something in the air.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Conversion

The yoga teacher said what we did today would be felt tomorrow. Well since I'm not playing football on Friday - what's the point? That's not the way to look at it.

My legs strained. Half lotus? Painful lotus.

No yoga on Friday because it's time to take the missus out for a birthday treat. But must not overdo it. Am playing on Saturday in a cup match. It will be against a team which is third in the top division - the division we were roundly dispatched from after one season.

Should be a footballing lesson. But given the amount of midfielders we now have, it is time to think about being a forward again just like I used to be.

Have organised an eye test in London. My theory is that I have been inaccurate in front of goal because I can't see properly.

Tragedy will be if I get a pair of glasses and still can't score.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

The End

Clay courts are a lost field for the former world number one Roger Federer and soon the whole circuit might just be a memory.

I was watching him on TV the other night at the Indian Wells tournament and my how he is struggling. He’s actually toiling. And overt labour has never been a facet of his game.

Federer has been a swan over the years. Above board silent and graceful. But though I'm a big fan, it seems he’s becoming a dinosaur, superseded by a generation of sluggers and grunters.

It isn’t going to get any easier as Federer is expecting his first child with his girlfriend in the summer. That happy event domestically may well be the prelude to total meltdown on the tour.

Federer lost in the semi finals at Indian Wells on Saturday night to the British fourth seed Andy Murray, his sixth defeat to the Scotsman in eight encounters.

Still, it will be a more entertaining final as Murray will play Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s showdown and there’s a chance that the Briton might make a final of it.

That can’t be said when Federer meets Nadal. He's lost so many of their battles that it just seems everyone humours him when he calls it a rivalry.

Sad to see but the smooth Swiss is unravelling. Someone needs to tell him to get a coach and a backhand because everyone is battering that wing it at the moment and the swan is flapping.

Matchday Whatever Post Mortem

Talk about remiss. No matchday preview due to partying. That’s no way to prepare for a game.

But it was the yoga teacher’s housewarming number and the entire family was invited. No wonder really. Three of the five of us take lessons at her studio and the income garnered from this conglomerate doubtless accounts for some of the adornments in her substantial abode near her studio.

But curmudgeonliness is not an attractive trait. So I won’t persist. We arrived at the sprawling lovenest she shares with her husband just after my Friday relaxation class and stayed until I’d had enough of the boy trying to send the teacher’s zen lined dog into the next transition.

But on Saturday still no pyrotechnics in front of goal. How haunted can I be? Had a fairly good chance that just went wide and another which was only an opportunity due to sharp guesswork.

When we did score, it was ruled out for offside. That symbolised the bad luck. Still the opposition could have won it and that would have been gutwrenching.

"A draw is not a loss," said Tonio who’s just returned from five weeks of doing up his cellar. Quite why he came back is probably what he’s wondering as he had to face a barrage of jokes about working underground.

We were up against the same team that scored two flukey goals a couple of months back to draw 2-2 with us at home.

I should have suspected that it would end up as an injustice. Still the sun was shining and one of my teammates Pierre gave me a lift back to the radio station.

Another teammate, Joseph, was also in the motor. It was he who introduced me to the football team a few years back and as we walked towards the station, he was refreshingly philosophical: play, have fun, do your best and try to win - but not at any price.

After what I’ve seen of late from some of the opponents – victory for us won’t ever be easy.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Petition

Wednesday is always a high octane day. So the best way to start it was at the swimming pool. As I lurched along the 25 metre pool, I thought of the elite competitors who had taken part in the Olympics.

They told tales of throwing up after training sessions and generally feeling nauseous with the regimes they had to subject themselves to for the chance of glory.

How they would "leave it all in the water". I never warmed to that phrase but I guess that's because I'm not an elite competitor who should be doing things like leaving it in the water.

I distinctly did not leave anything in the water after my morning swim but I did take away a warm glow of having pushed myself further than planned.

So to home and to prepare the boy for his little session at bebes nageurs. A beautiful idea where parent and child can learn to play in the water. Occasionally some of the youngsters do "leave it all in the water" and the session is cancelled while the pool is given a healthy dose of bleach.

The girls have gone down this route of bebes nageurs - as opposed to leaving it all in the water. And now they do classes on Monday and Tuesday evenings respectively. Indeed the eldest wants to be Rebecca Adlington and swim to glory in the Olympics.

It would be ironic if she did become an Olympic swimmer but she'd presumably do all her training in France. Would she swim for France or Britain?

If the blog is going in 10 or so years, then I'll give the answers. That's assuming I'll be going in 10 or so years.

Difficult to see past 10 or so hours at the moment.

We're all afflicted with a nasty cough. I was fine when I was in London on Monday. Get back to Paris on Monday evening and the dry air has given me a tickle in my throat.

I went for the overproof rum remedy on Tuesday night. It didn't really help my throat but I slept really well.

I thought the rum had gone to my head when I took my CDs back to the library this afternoon. I picked some more CDs and as I was waiting for them to be checked in, then the librarian told me that the ones I'd brought back were a month overdue.

I had a fine of 15 euros. I apologised for the tardiness, naturally blamed my eldest daughter for clearing up my CDs - evidently prompting a memory loss.....

The he started to go on about a library in the 15th arrondissement closing down. And as part of the protest against the closure, librarians throughout the city's 20 arrondissements were refusing to collect book/CD/DVD fines.

Enfin, bref - as I have learned to say - it means that I don't have to cough up the cash. But he did ask me to sign a petition against the closure of the library.

Sensing a chance for übersmarm I said I would have signed the petition even if I'd needed to fork out.

Actually I wasn't being that smarmy I meant it.

Paying my dues when it comes to libraries is fine by me.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Matchday XI Preview and Postmortem

We were up against the second team in the league. And boy did I come off second best. Was one on one with the goalkeeper and completely messed it up. Tried to lob him and it was hopeless. I felt gutted. Ho hum. That would have been 2-0. Needless to say, they scored just before half time and then just after half time and somehow managed to get a free kick when it was their attacker who fouled our defender.

They scored from the resulting free kick.

What struck me as wild was the fact that one of their players went and sliced up the legs of one of ours. They were 3-1 up and doing that a couple of minutes from the end.

Some days you just have to say: OK. Best to get out in one piece and go back to the drawing board.

For said drawing board I have looked up the Chelsea campaign of 2004/5 and specifically the goal that clinched the title. Fat Frank Lampard has to run quite a way and beats the keeper one on one.

I have studied and inwardly digested.

Well that was all a long time ago. I remember I was doing a Saturday shift at the Observer when he put the second one in. I'm sure I went out and bought a pint to celebrate that night.

No pints tonight. Just sober recollection on how to do better.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Mat

There's a run on yoga mats at Go Sport at République. This strikes me as really odd. How can somewhere which is supposed to stock yoga mats not have yoga mats?

I didn't stick around to ask. Actually I wasn't even given the chance to enquire. The assistant told me they'd be in next week and off he went into a store room.

Well next week beginning of the week? Next week end of the week? Next week is quite a long stretch.

So my brilliant plan to take a mat to London has been scuppered. I was thinking of going down to Les Halles to see if they had it there. But I didn't have that kind of time.

Monday's little practise in London will have to be done on the cold hard floor.

It will doubtless make me appreciate the plush mat I have for Paris.

But while I was unable to splash out on a mat, I was able to buy a pair of swimming goggles.

They're UV and look sleek. I think I'll go faster just wearing them;

They had a list by the goggles stand detailing usage.

For the leisure specs, there were a couple of lithe adolescents seemingly at the shallow end of a municipal pool.

But the picture for the frequent usage/training glasses showed the gleaming white teeth emerging from an elite jaw.

Well I had to buy the Speedos. It would have been wrong not to have bought them.

Though I suspect I am probably too leisurely in the pool for the all action types.

That's what makes yoga so appealing. You go at your own speed. One om per hour.


Monday, 9 March 2009

The Horror

It seems Eurostar are doing their best to turn travel into a nightmare.

Somehow the Gare du Nord revamp has failed to produce the desired results of easy streaming and it seems as chaotic and cramped as it was before the revamp to make it less chaotic and cramped.

I would like to think I remained calm and collected as I waited an ominously long time to get through the French passport controls and then the British immigration.

It was, as they say in Paris, limite.

I got the train just about and was sped to London with a minimum of fuss.

After negotiating early morning rush hour in south London, it is, by comparison, far more tranquil waiting in a queue at the Gare du Nord.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Guru

There was a special yoga class with a teacher in from New York to impart his wisdom. I've never done anything like that before. Can't say I'll race out and do it again in a hurry but it was brilliant to see a different way of taking a class. And it was good for the spirits.

I am not sure if my chakras have been realigned or even installed. There were quite a few movements and positions I was nowhere near but it was good to see just how far there is to go on the journey.

Empowering and humbling.

The Gulf II

There's a line in Seinfeld in which the character George says something like: "I don't get modern art."

I get to look at it because I am trying to see the point. I like Yves Klein because I like blue. I finally got Picasso after going round the museum here and spending time watching the development of the artist.

Enlivened by the Voids thang, I went to the Musée d'Art Modern de la Ville de Paris as there was a day of strikes at the radio station.

Since all this was announced and organised while I was in London I turned up at work to find out that I was not going to work.

Perhaps the Maison de la Radio is an art installation.

I took in Jimmie Durham and Giorgio de Chirico before taking a coffee and taking off when I saw a rather large mouse prancing under a table in a cafe.

These exhibitions had pieces in them. Positively clogged up by comparison with what I'd seen on Wednesday.

For sheer value for money, the Thursday bonanza at the Musée d'Art moderne wins hands down. But for enduring and exhilarating hilarity, nothing beats a void.

The Gulf

A rain soaked Wednesday? Relieve the gloom with a trip to the Pompidou Centre. More like relive the gloom. Seemingly slashed canvases depicting fractured angst and transcendent discord.

Well enough of the permanent exhibits. The temporary show caught my eye. Voids A Retrospective has been on just over a week.

It was a collection of exhibitions that - to cite the blurb - "presented a completely empty space, gallery, or museum".

There was Yves Klein's number from 1958. Lightly titled The Specialization of Sensibility in the Raw Material State Into Stabilized Pictorial Sensibility.

Klein painted the gallery interior white to make "an ambiance, a genuine pictorial climate, and, therefore, an invisible one."

Apparently this show started the empty space as a work of art.

The other artists included Robert Barry, Robert Irwin, Laurie Parsons, Bethan Huws, Maria Eichhorn, Roman Ondák and Stanley Brouwn.

And they all had their take on the blank, white space.

Personally I've always liked the idea of emptiness being pregnant with meaning. But I was slightly befuddled about passing from white space to white space.

Fortunately there were arrows saying exhibition continues this way.
I really should have known there are whiter shades of pale. The boy certainly danced to this tune.

In Ondák's rendition More Silent Than Ever, the boy jumped out of his buggy and ran around it and me - a blur of motion. Oh the jauntiness of youth.

It seemed a trenchant summary on contemporary economic preoccupations.

I've always been impressed by a chapter in Sartre's Nausea. It went along the lines of: Nothing. Existed.

No matter how hard I've tried over the years I've never been able to connect with that kind of evacuation.

But since viewing the shoal of voids, I've been quite chirpy. Truly enwhitened.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Matchday X Preview and Postmortem

Somehow the preview got lost amid tot duties. The boy appears reluctant to go to sleep before very late.

He eventually did - obviously - but I figured that I needed some sleep before venturing off to play on Saturday morning. The rendez-vous with the team captain was at 8.15am at Porte de Montreuil.

That effectively meant I had to be at Republique before 8.

The location was way out in the countryside. 30 kilometres from Paris and there was bucolic bliss aplenty.

Good that aspect was available as the football was painful to watch from the sideline.

I sacrificed myself for the first half - fearing my leg would not last. I also figured that as we were playing the bottom team I might not have to do anything at all.

Wrong. it was 0-0 at half time and they were aided by the failure of the officials to award a goal. Apparently the ball went over the line twice but the referee didn't give it either time.

Ho hum. You can imagine that went down badly.

We eventually won 1-0 but it was edgy. Hardly imperious stuff. But at least the surroundings were pleasant and reminded me somewhat of the previous Saturday when I was in England.

It was good to get out and play too rather than watching.

The Whirl

I was back in Paris before I really had time to know I was in London. On the one hand this is a testament to modern communications and railway engineering.

But on the other hand it rather undermines the basis for a blog on Paris and London since I barely register London.

Next week I have a Sunday night and Monday night to savour the place of my birth. Ach Heimat.